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The Prestige

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  11,156 ratings  ·  1,238 reviews
In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose one another.

Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the dec
Paperback, 360 pages
Published September 15th 1997 by Tom Doherty Associates Tor Books (first published 1995)
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I Only Watched the Movie!
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The MOVIE was BETTER than the BOOK
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Community Reviews

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Aug 05, 2012 Jonathan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy suspense, intrigue and delving deeper into books

"An illusion has three stages.

"First there is the setup, in which the nature of what might be attempted at is hinted at, or suggested, or explained. The apparatus is seen. volunteers from the audience sometimes participate in preparation. As the trick is being setup, the magician will make use of every possible use of misdirection.

"The performance is where the magician's lifetime of practice, and his innate skill as a performer, cojoin to produce the magical display.

"The third stage is sometimes

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not even close to what I was expecting, thankfully.

Blurb: Turn of the 20th Century London, two stage magicians embark on a feud of a lifetime propelling both of them to fame and fortune, pain and despair and a couple of shocking discoveries along the way, also framed by the meeting of their great grandchildren still living with the aftermath of the feud.

Thoughts: At its core Christopher Priest's The Prestige (completely different entity
Like many readers, I came to this book after seeing the excellent 2006 film based on it. Like many other readers, I ended up preferring the film to the book as the film is a lot more tightly woven and provides better motivations for the characters' actions.

The story, for those of you who don't know, centres on two Victorian magicians who strike up a feud and spend the next twenty years sabotaging each other's shows and trying to outperform each other, each coming up with a spectacular disappeari
Scribble Orca
I saw the movie on the plane (where else) and was frantic to surf the 'net to find out more about it when we landed. I wanted to understand more about the book, its author, the concepts, and background. Big screen (well, in this case, the small screen on the back of a plane seat) is terrific but ephemeral, whereas with a book I have time for distractions, cogitation, re-reading (and checking things on the net!). You might argue that I can fiddle with 'Pause', 'Rewind', 'Forward' and (several ite ...more
I prefer the movie, but I'm not sure if that's because I saw it first or because it condensed the confusion down to a lean story of obsession and one-upmanship. My reading was heavily influenced by knowing the major spoilers. Should've read the book first.

Dammit, what is with the Monday morning over-the-shoulder snoopers? Gotta make this fast. Unreliable narrators, stupid feuds with real consequences that made them impossible to let go, destroying your own life through choices. Each man had a ch
3.5 Stars

This was... Hmm. This book was not anything I expected. Though, I'm not really sure just what I expected, to be honest. I alternated between thinking that this story was going to be dry and boring, or over the top "magicky", or all fluffadelic like what I expect The Night Circus would be like if I could bring myself to read it. I don't like circuses, or... well, parties or performances or celebrations or fairs or festivals or whatever authors write about to make their books "lively" or
Loved it. Certain subjects, in this case stage magic, hold a lot of appeal for me and a good book about those subjects is going to be well received by me. I loved the movie also, but this book is quite different in a lot of ways. It’s a great example of how a good screen writer can adopt and change the author’s ideas and emphasis and still come up with a good movie. BTW – I recall reading somewhere around the time that the movie came out that the term prestige , in the sense that it is used here ...more
Really more of a 4.5, but the very, very end left me enough at a loss that I rounded down instead of up. This is one page-turner of a debut novel. I was reading it concurrently with Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and needless to say, this one went much more quickly.

The main thing I want to say about this novel is that, if you've seen the movie based on it, you do NOT know the story of this novel. I did enjoy the film, but it stands on its own apart from the book, in many more ways than it
4.0 stars. Christopher Priest can flat out write a good story and this is no exception. After reading (and thoroughly enjoying one of his science fiction novels, The Inverted World: A Novel, I was anxious to check out one of his other stories and chose this one.

While the plot and tone are completely different than The Inverted World: A Novel, the strength of the story-telling and the excellent writing are certainly evident. The story is a sort of historical mystery (with very subtle fantasy/sci
Nancy Oakes
I must say that this was a sterling novel that absolutely kept me reading until the very end. But before I launch into it, here's my recommendation. The book thoroughly requires the reader's participation. It's not a wham-bam thank you ma'am kind of story and definitely NOT for readers who quickly become impatient with what they're reading. It is one of those books where you're going to be thinking about what's going constantly as you read, so don't pick it up if you think you're just going to ...more
If you've seen the movie, don't bother with the book. I usually don't mind spoilers because the journey is why I read (or watch a movie). In this case, the spoiled reveal spoiled the book. Of course, it could be that the book was rotten to begin with and couldn't get any more spoiled. It did have some interesting techniques that knowing the secrets helped me notice. But, it was soooooo sloooooooow and booooring that even clever technique didn't help.

I don't think the audio version was helped at
I didn't rank this yet? Did my rating... disappear?

Much weirder and more complicated than the movie. Also a little stupider (ghosts?) and yet a lot smarter (nested storytelling -- letters within journals within flashbacks -- to create a compelling, complex structure).

The slight of hand also tends to play better in print when you don't have to see it acted out (hey, my magic trick requires a double of Hugh Jackman, let's cast Hugh Jackman!).

I read this years back, before the film, and it's hard
The Prestige by Christopher Priest was the work book club choice for June/July: thanks to Robert for selecting this month. A book about magic (the illusion kind; not the dragons kind), professional and personal jealousy, and some weird science that might turn out to be magic after all. And so on, blah blah blah. It sounds like the sort of book that might have everything. Two stage magicians with a bitter rivalry that goes through their entire careers – Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier. One thinks ...more
Jan 09, 2015 Wastrel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to see a masterful writer at work and who doesn't mind a bit of weirdness
Not recommended for: anyone allergic to SF-elements or who demands a simple story told from beginning to end, or who can't cope with old-fashioned prose or a slow pace.

This book is quite simply a masterwork. From a slow beginning, it ratchets up the tension like an old-fashioned horror film, until it's truly thrilling. With relatively little in the way of overt psychological insight - particularly into Borden, one of the two main characters - it nonetheless constructs clear, sympathetic, underst
Andreea Daia
Review subtitle: Don't Judge a Book by its Movie!

Who saw the movie and, in spite of the great cast, found it too gory, dehumanized, obsessive, and (should I say it) psychotic? Raise your hands! (Count me in... ) I'm happy to say that the original novel was a different story. All the elements that bothered me in the movie adaptation are there, yet there is always a (relatively) sane motivation for even the worse decisions.

The synopsis is simple: using a couple of diaries, the descendants of two s
This was a very interesting book. I liked the way it told the story from the different perspectives. First we get Bordon's side then later we get Angiers. It's not exactly a retelling, but it fills out the story with even more and different information. Then we move into the future with the grandaughter of Angiers and grandson of Bordon. Very interesting and well done. I do feel they leave some questions hanging, though, that I wish they had answered.
Oddly enough, not as good as the movie!
Joe Valdez
May 19, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Illusionists, puzzlers, hucksters
Shelves: sci-fi-general
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arielle Walker
Having loved the film (but also been somewhat bewildered by it - never watch intricate films when you should be sleeping - they really won't make sense.) I was pretty excited to find that it was originally a book. This, I figured, would be my chance to actually understand the story!

Well, sort of.

The book is written in epistolary form, from the point of view of four main characters around 5 generations apart. Two characters write in diaries - these are the main characters, and the storyline that
Oct 31, 2007 Audra rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys mysteries with a touch of magic, science fiction, and bit of soft horror too.
A suspenseful and gripping story, Christopher Priest demonstrates his storytelling skill in this compelling tale of two turn-of-the-century competing British stage magicians and their feud that trickles down through their descendants. A present day young man unexepctedly finds out that he is a descendant of one of the magicians, and the reader follows his journey of reading their old diaries, learning of their lives, secrets, the feud, and how it so directly affects him (the present day young ma ...more
Jul 13, 2007 Russ rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for something interesting
You know the kind of book that starts out very wordy and slow, and then *boom* you get a scene that makes you want to read the rest of it right now, just to find out what happens? This is that kind of book.

The setting is in present day, with descendants of two famous magicians trying to figure out what happened to their great-grandfathers. They do this by reading the journals/books of their forefathers. What they find out will really amaze you.

This book will keep you guessing, and once the guess
I seem to have read a few books about magicians and circuses lately, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Turn of the century drama about the rivalry between two stage magicians. One of them has one amazing trick called 'The New Transported Man' where he apparently transports himself between two cabinets in a fraction of a second. The other magician wants to know how this trick is done and so begins a bitter rivalry. He eventually creates a similar trick and calls it 'In a Flash
Delmy  ┻━┻ ︵ ¯\ (ツ)/¯ ︵ ┻━┻
Umm, hmm, I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was a great story, it had its shortcomings and there's things I believe should have been changed but overall I really liked it. The ending left me feeling odd,I cannot describe what I feel disappointment or anxiety or sad??? I don't know. Not the happiest of ending but definitely has a creepy vibe. yeah.

The story begins with a journalist being sent to cover a story, a story that is made up and whose only purpose was to get him to a house ful
Took me a while to get to this one.

I'm slowly going through my to-read pile and trying to get through this long backlog of books that were recommended to me, given to me, or that I've intended to read for quite some time. The Prestige came up, and now it's finally been read. I'd been intending to dive into it since the film, as quite a few comparisons had been drawn between the Nolan film and the book shortly after it came out. Now, it's been a while since I saw the film but the main thrust - an
Scott D.
I wrote this review in 2007 for SFFaudio. I just finished listening to this audiobook again, and am just as enthusiastic as I was the first time:

It’s difficult to say how long it’s been since I’ve been as enthralled with an audiobook as I was with this unabridged version of the World Fantasy Award-winning The Prestige. In very few words, the production was excellent. Simon Vance narrated, and since the story is primarily told through journal entries of the two main characters, he was called upon
I wasn't sure what to expect. Compared to the movie, the ending really takes the gothic stuff to the nth squared degree. Think Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. There's also parts that take place in the modern day that aren't in the movie. All the historical stuff is told through diary entries. These two magicians just seem insane to me. I didn't really relate to them in the book. I thought the movie was more 'dramatic' and 'emotional', but the movie has most of the same elements, reedited for effect. ...more
Arun Divakar
Why are people fascinated by Magic ? Why is there a wish in the minds of humans to do the logically impossible ? The answers are startlingly obvious for the extent of needs we have is limitless. When we see a human being on stage in the limelight doing something we wish we could, the applause is immense. The bedrock of this tale is magic in an era when it was developing and of two feuding magicians whose rivalry continues beyond the grave.

The plot moves through multiple narratives and jumps betw
Ellen B.
It actually took me quite a long time to read this one, and while I largely enjoyed it, I can't help wondering some things. My suspicion is that I was sometimes uninspired to keep reading because the pacing was a bit slower than the movie. Connected to that, I kept wondering over and over again what it would have been like to read the book without knowing the big twist at the end. There were clues, certainly, and while it wasn't spelled out during Borden's portion of the narrative, I wondered wh ...more
It's always chancy, to read a book that a movie that you really liked was based on. Most of the time I've read the book first, and am comparing the movie to the book. With The Prestige, I'm doing the opposite.

What's not to love about the movie? Christian Bale, Michael Caine, AND Hugh Jackman, a great story, tightly woven and well-told.

And it's exciting.

I'm not trying to imply that the book isn't exciting, but, well, okay, it isn't, even when I try to step back from it and try to decide how I'
Nick Wellings
The Philadelphia Experiment meets Seigfried and Roy. Thoroughly silly, odd and weird. Hence, Sci-Fi. Fictionally, in terms of craft and style, content and story - good. As pure fabulism, very impressive. Feuding Magicians? Nikola Tesla? Present day spookiness? Compelling, I guess. Angier was an intersting figure,the embodiment of Edison's (who finds passing mention here) principle of perspiration, inspiration though Angier's no genius, and knew it.

The bad: The ending knocked a star off. (Seemed
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Christopher Priest was born in Cheshire, England. He began writing soon after leaving school and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1968.

He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.

He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television (Thames TV and HTV). In
More about Christopher Priest...

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“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".” 141 likes
“The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you wont find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled.” 24 likes
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